Cadillac has completely revamped the Cadillac SRX's powertrain lineup for 2012; both the somewhat sluggish base 3.0-liter V-6 and the thirsty turbocharged V-6 have been dropped this year, replaced by a single engine: a 308-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6. The rest of it hasn't changed; a 6-speed automatic puts power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive, courtesy Haldex, is optional and it adds on an electronically controlled, limited-slip rear differential that delivers excellent poor-weather grip.
While the former base engine had to be revved well into its rev band during normal acceleration, the new engine makes its 265 pound-feet of torque at just 2,400 rpm. The low-end power gives the SRX more confident and relaxed acceleration. The new engine settles down to a slight purr at idle, and it revs with a silky tenor. Cadillac says 60 mph comes in about seven seconds.
All that said, at least initially it feels nowhere near as sprightly as the V-6s in the Acura MDX, the Lincoln MKX. or even the Lexus RX 350, but that's because its throttle is calibrated quite conservatively (and we like that). And because of the SRX's heft (nearly 4,500 pounds), rather tall gearing that keeps revs around the 2,000-rpm mark at 70 mph, and the lack of low-rev torque, you'll notice the transmission downshifts often for even mild grades and gradual overtaking.
While the powertrain is sweet, we're not nearly as in love with how the SRX handles--or even brakes. While the hydraulic-assist steering system weights up nicely and unwinds predictably, like a sport sedan (and feels far more reassuring than the electric-assist units in the likes of the Lexus RX), the SRX feels heavier than you'd expect if you pitch it hard into a corner, and it's a bit disconcerting in that its center of mass feels higher, even if it isn't. The brakes feel spongy and there's some nosedive to cement the impression
Two suspensions are offered: the standard tune and the optional FE3 that features Continuous Damping Control, an active suspension that reads and adjusts every two milliseconds. The SRX's ride, even with 20-inch wheels, is smooth.